The economic sanctions, imposed on Russia by the United States, are not working, said US Senator Ron Johnson, who visited Russia with a delegation of US congressmen on June 30 – July 5.

“On the ground, they don’t seem to be having a real horrible economic effect,” he told Washington Examiner.

“You do something and nobody ever sits back and analyzes, ‘Well, is it working?’” the senator said. “And I think you’d be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well.”

At the same time, the senator said he does not favor lifting sanctions, but suggests revising them.

“My sense is that the targeted sanctions to the oligarchs, to the members of government, are the ones that really sting and probably [offer] the best chance of affecting their behavior,” he said.

The senator said that after his visit he was trying to find ways to build trust between the two nations.

“Russia wants to reconstitute, basically, its sphere of influence that they had in the Soviet Union. So, you understand that, and if you don’t want to let that happen, you’ve got to push back with strength and resolve … but that doesn’t mean that we have to be enemies,” he said.

According to Johnson, the Congress over-reacted to Russia’s alleged 2016 election interference, by passing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) last summer, which tied Trump’s hands with mandatory sanctions.

“We’ve blown it way out of proportion [as if it’s] the greatest threat to democracy … We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively,” the senator said.

The US legislators’ visit to Russia took place between June 30 and July 5. The delegation included Alabama Senator and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Richard Shelby, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, Montana Senator Steve Daines, as well as member of the US House of Representatives from Texas Kay Granger.

The US lawmakers met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and members of both chambers of the Russian parliament. It was held in the run-up to the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, due to take place in Helsinki on July 16.

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